Welcome to Palencia
Castilla y León, in the northwest of the peninsula, is not one of Spain's most popular destinations, so much so that its gorgeous and immense cathedral is known as the “beautiful and unknown”. As the regional hymn of Palencia says, you will find here mountains, valleys, plains and meadows, that will make nature-lovers fall in love with the diversity of this place.
Tierra de Campos is witness of the quiet, tranquility of this province, away from the frenzy of urban, city life. And the truth is that, little by little, this province has grown to become one of the main destinations for visitors who come looking for a place to do rural tourism in Palencia.
One of the reasons for this, is the capital, where the shapes and colours of the local architecture never fail to charm art-lovers. You will find many examples of medieval art in Castillos, and a peaceful retreat in the visigoth temple in San Juan de los Baños.
Although it might seem a problem, or a relief to some, those who intend to hiking to the Pisuerga or join walking a part of the pilgrimage of Camino de Santiago will feel completely new once they try the delicious typical roast dishes prepared in a wood-fired oven. And to those who would like to know a thing or two about architecture, you will find here the largest collection of historic buildings built in the Romanesque style, in Europe.
And if you think you will like the capital, then you will be completely mesmerised by its surroundings, such as the National Park of Fuentes Carrionas, where bears and Romanesque art live. It is also the familiar homely air in here, that has made this province an ideal destination for hundreds of tourists who have chosen this as the destination of their rural stay. So, are you coming too?
Explore the region
Discover Palencia, a traditional Castilian province with much to tell. You can see the relevance this province has hadin history in its monuments, especially those built in Romanesque style: churches, bridges, and palaces fill the historical center both in picturesque small towns and in the capital, where you can visit Palencias's cathedral, also known as the “Bella Desconocida” (the beautiful unknown). Following the waters of the Canal de Castilla, or walking up to the Cristo del Otero are some of the activities that we recommend, without forgetting to visit either the museums you will find here, such as the archaeological museum, the diocesan one, and the museum of contemporary art, as well a the many gardens and parks. A very lively and busy cultural and tourist offer for all tastes, and a gastronomy that has recovered the purest essence of the traditional recipes of Castilla, conclude a long list of reasons to visit this province.
About the region of Palencia
Palencia is known for being the Spanish city with most parks per person, and the second one in Europe, only beated by Amsterdam.
In the 11th century a school was founded next to the city's cathedral, later becoming the first university in Spain.
Book your ideal rural house in Palencia
Where to sleep in Palencia
The historical center of Palencia is divided into different quartiers, each of them with its own distinctive character: in Centro-Catedral you will find the majority of historical monuments; in Centro-La Puebla, one of the biggest ones, you will find the Palencia's city hall and the Plaza Mayor; in Centro-Salón de Isabel II you will be able to enjoy of a romantic and intimate atmosphere and many parks to see the sunset; and in Centro-San Pablo you will find a beautiful network of charming narrow streets and alleys.
But if you're looking for a place to enjoy of some peace and quiet, the small towns and villages scattered around the province are your bets bet. Amongst the most beautiful of them are Ampudia, known for its typical Castilian streets, Carrión de los Condes with its medieval historical center, and Aguilar del Campo, a must if you interested in learning more about Romanesque architecture in Palencia.
What to do in Palencia
Without question, visiting the Cristo del Otero is the most popular activity visitors like to in the city, and no wonder why: 21 meters tall, make this construction one of the tallest Christ representations in the world, and it is also a great viewpoint to see the whole city. But Palencia is much more than that: if you walk around the historical center you will discover San Antolín cathedral considered a Spanish National Monument, a few Romanesque churches and convents, and many bronze sculptures and monuments.
The Canal de Castilla crosses the whole province, one of the most notable examples of water-supply engineering in Spain, from the 18th century. You can cross it by boat, and enjoy of the beautiful views of the nature around it during it. Without leaving nature behind, this area is also home to two natural reserves: te natural reserve of Fuente Carrionas y Fuente Cobre-Montaña Palentina, in the north of the province; and Laguna de la Nava de Fuentes, a perfect spot for bird-watching.
What to eat
Being a province of Castilla y León, the gastronomy of Palencia recuperates the essence and flavours of the traditional Castilian gastronomy. Wood-fired roast meals are the most popular, traditional recipes here, and it uses young lamb as its main ingredient. During the coldest months, there is nothing like warming up with a 'sopa castellana', and 'cocido', the latter recipe dating from the 17th century. Vegetables are also an important part of Palencia's cuisine: the peppers from Torquemada, onions from Palenzuela, or the kidney beans from Sardaña, are some of the representatives of the local vegetable produce. The great number of monasteries in the area is reflected on the variety of typical sweets and confectionery you can find here, such as the biscuits from Aguilar del Campoo. To complete such an splendid meal, you can have a glass of 'aguardiente de orujo' and any other of the local liqueurs that are typical of this province.
Even though it is not one of the most popular ones in Spain, Easter here is considered an elegant, simplistic and sober festivity, so much so that it has been recognised as a being if International Tourist Interest.
But it is not the only important one here: the river descent of the Descenso Internacional del Río Pisuerga, held in the second sunday of August in Alar del Rey, and the international boat race of Carrión, celebrated the 14th of August in Velilla del Río Carrión, are two of the most popular sport events celebrated in this province, that are also of National Tourist Interest.
To add a final musical touch to these celebrations, try to spot the traditional 'jota' dances and 'dulzaina' players, that usually entertain the people and brighten up the streets, of any special occasion.